Even though the Academy are entering their third month of the season, it’s really just kicking off. It’s been a never-ending stream of matches across the four age groups, topped off with a U-17 World Cup Call Up.
Welcome back to Next Up, your hub for monthly updates on Charlotte FC’s Academy.
U-17 2023 World Cup
Three different Charlotte FC Academy players have consistently been in the U-17 United States Youth National Team player pool: James Nyandjo, Brian Romero, and Nimfasha Berchimas.
The competition for a spot on this esteemed team, comprised of the nation's top young talents, is fierce, to say the least. Ultimately, Charlotte FC will be represented in the 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup hosted in Indonesia, with Nimfasha Berchimas earning a place on the final roster.
Berchimas's inclusion in the squad is particularly notable as he becomes the youngest player to make a U-17 World Cup roster since Freddy Adu, at just 15 years old. Berchimas has been an integral part of the Charlotte FC Academy setup since its inception four years ago, so it’s a proud moment for both individual and the Club.
"We’re really proud of him,” praised Executive Academy Director Bryan Scales. “He’s worked very hard on his game. For him to sign a contract, play with Crown Legacy, continue to get some Academy games, get invited into national team camps, and having to keep game as a 15-year-old kid at a high level is hard even for senior level players.”
One of the key traits of Berchimas is that no matter the level of play or the occasion, he’s fearless in the way he plays. It’s been a major driving factor behind his success at such a young age, and Scales hopes that Berchimas continues to play with that fearlessness in Indonesia.
"Hopefully as Nimfasha has exhibited on a number of occasions, he continues to play with no fear. Just enjoy the experience and play.”
Update (11/13/23): Berchimas proved Scales right straight away. He earned a starting place in the team's opening group stage 3-1 victory against South Korea and directly involved himself in all three goals, including two tallies for himself to become the youngest goal scorer for the U.S. at the U-17 World Cup since Freddy Adu.
The latest addition to Charlotte's Academy, the U-20s, have secured a spot in the UPSL playoffs. They currently hold the second seed position, which could lead to hosting a playoff game. What adds to the team's remarkable success is its ability to adapt to a continuously changing roster. With the team's distinct role of connecting the U-17s and Crown Legacy, U-20 coaches Dominic Oduro, Jorge Herrera, and Michal Gorszcaryk must navigate the challenge of not having a fixed roster while still fostering a harmonious atmosphere to achieve positive results.
“Dominic, Jorge, and Michal, the goalkeeper coach, have done a great job of assimilating that whole group and putting them in a good environment each day,” explained Scales. “That creates cohesion because that group can be an influx of players coming down from Crown Legacy and from the U-17 team coming up to get games. Creating a group that that has that cohesion to go into games against older players is always going to be a challenge. But the staff have done a really good job of bringing that group together and getting them organized.”
Their last match of the regular season is Saturday, November 3rd in Asheville, NC.
Update (11/13/23): After earning a bye through the first round of playoffs as the #2 seed, the Charlotte FC U-20s have booked a home playoff match against North Carolina FC's UPSL side. The game will take place at OrthoCarolina Sportsplex on November 18th at 5:00 p.m.
In their most recent match, the U-17s came up with a 3-2 win against one of the top MLS academy teams in the country, New York City FC. Early in their season, two players have stood out for their character and leadership propelling the team forward, according to Scales.
“Trey Faticoni, he’s the goalkeeper in that group. He’s been with Crown Legacy, he's been with the U-17s, and he’s been here at the Academy for the last few years. He's a great leader and a terrific presence. His personality bleeds through that whole team. Also, Simon Tonidandel, who plays as a number six, is another like Trey that brings that professionalism, training habits, and everyday competitive mentality which has been really important to that group.”
The U-15s have put up some impressive performances with some significant results against MLS sides. They beat Orlando City, New York City FC, and came up just short against a strong Inter Miami side.
“The competitive mentality of this group has been really good," said Scales. "We’ve brought some players in from across the region into our residency program which has made a big difference in this team. You’re starting to see a really good level of competition in training to get into that lineup. That’s the rising tide that lifts all the boats."
Residency players like defensive midfielder Carlos Conzalez have played a key role in elevating the group. In addition to that, Caleb Stark and Malcolm Morris, who are playing down an age group have “made a big difference as far as the competitive level, leadership, and professionalism within that group."
Even though the U-14s haven’t played much yet, they’ve had some good showings, but the main objective of the team is to instill the Charlotte FC playing philosophy in these early stages of their Academy career.
“The most important thing for them is that they are getting the style of play down, that they understand what it looks like to play for Charlotte FC.”
That wraps up this edition of Next Up, stay tuned for more updates throughout the Academy season.